The Colts wasted little time filling their vacancy at offensive coordinator, as the team has reportedly hired Pep Hamilton to take the position.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Hamilton is set to replace the departing Bruce Arians, who was recently hired to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
The move reunites the coach with Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist while being coached by Hamilton at Stanford. Hamilton has spent the last three years at the university, the final two as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after being promoted from wide receivers coach.
The obvious benefit of the hire is Luck’s familiarity with Hamilton, preserving some degree of continuity for the quarterback despite Arians’s departure. In addition to Luck, the Colts have two other former Stanford players that were coached by Hamilton on their roster: tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Griff Whalen (who has yet to appear in an NFL game after spending 2012 on injured reserve).
However, the move also begs two pressing questions. First, how will Hamilton handle playcalling on an NFL level? This is his first coordinator job in professional football, and his first job in the NFL since 2009, when he was the quarterbacks coach for Chicago. It is almost impossible to answer that question at this stage, but his familiarity with Luck should help.
Before taking the QB coach job in Chicago, which lasted from 2007-2009, Hamilton coached the quarterbacks in San Francisco for a season. Prior to that, he was an offensive assistant for the Jets from 2003-2005.
There is also the question of how much of the Stanford offense Hamilton will actually bring to Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Star article notes that Hamilton utilized a West Coast offense while at Stanford, which stands in stark contrast to the deep passing game utilized by Arians this past season.
In 2012, Luck led all NFL quarterbacks with 101 passes aimed 20 yards or deeper, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). This will likely change if a traditional West Coast offense is adopted in Indianapolis.
Though it remains to be seen how exactly Hamilton will run the Colts offense, what cannot be denied is his familiarity and past success with Luck.
With Hamilton calling the plays, Luck completed over 70% of his passes, posted almost nine yards per pass attempt, and threw 69 touchdowns over the course of his final two collegiate seasons.
Asking Hamilton to have this same kind of success in the NFL would be a tall order, but given his history with Luck, there is now even more reason for optimism in Indianapolis.